It’s out with actor Mark Wahlberg and in with rocker Sammy Hagar at a five-story building near Times Square that was previously planned for an outpost of Wahlburger. Hagar’s restaurant Cabo Wabo Cantina will instead fill the space with tequila, tacos, and if it’s anything like his other venues, lots of rock ‘n’ roll shows, according to landlord Thor Equities.
This will be the first East Coast location for Cabo Wabo, a restaurant and club founded by the former Van Halen frontman in Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas in 1990. It has since expanded to the West Coast with locations in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Hollywood. The chain prides itself on being a party destination serving Mexican-American food during the day and slinging shot glasses at night.
The atmosphere at the original Cabo location is reminiscent of Señor Frog’s, whose short-lived stint in NYC ended in 2016. Despite being open for only a year, the over-the-top party restaurant snagged a humorous yet positive review from Times’ critic Pete Wells, who apparently had more fun there than any other new restaurant across town.
Cabo Wabo will set up shop in a 8,300-square-foot space at 725 Eighth Ave., between West 45th and 46th Streets. A 10-year lease was inked for the space and plans point to a 2019 debut, according to Thor.
The menus at its other locations feature typical Mexican-American fare like quesadillas, tacos, and tortilla soup, as well as seafood options like coconut shrimp, ceviche, and the catch of the day. But Cabo Wabo is probably more well-known for its namesake tequila, happy hour deals, and live shows — including occasional performances from Hagar himself. The NYC outpost will most likely come with a stage, as is the case in their other venues, a Thor spokesperson says.
As for this spot’s previous tenant, the doors never officially swung open. The Wahlburger, a poorly reviewed burger chain owned by Wahlberg and his siblings, reportedly struggled to pay rent and never finished building out its Times Square outpost, although its been in the space since 2015. Last year its owners found themselves locked out of the building for not keeping up with rent. The burger chain also closed its Coney Island location in 2017 but has since reopened it. Two other spots on the UES and Port Jefferson Station still exist.
The Wahlburger saga is yet another example that celebrity-backed restaurants have recently struggled to stay afloat in NYC. Nearly a dozen celebrity chefs including Cat Cora, Guy Fieri, and Anne Burrell have closed restaurants in the last year alone.
But Hagar apparently is not deterred. The NYC location is slated to open in spring 2019.